When Navy SEAL instructors meet with a classroom of new candidates, they tell them to look at the men seated closest to them. Four out of five, they say, will not survive the course. If you did a similar scan of your gym, fewer members would earn IFBB pro status, and fewer still would ever make a good living in the world of physique building.
Kristal Richardson is something of a rarity. Not only did the Illinois native dive in to Figure competition at age 29, but it only took her two shows to earn pro status. Blessed with good genetics and a SEAL-like approach to training, Richardson is no fluke — she has notched two fourth-place finishes at the Figure Olympia (2009, 2010) and, most recently, she won the overall at the 2010 IFBB Fort Lauderdale Figure Pro. Now on a hiatus from competition, she is applying her competitive drive to her role as vice president of brands with Top Secret Nutrition.
What’s on tap competitively for 2012?
I haven’t done anything since winning the 2010 Fort Lauderdale Figure Pro, and with good reason. I’m expecting my first child, Leah Nicole, in mid-April. Although I’m not sure how I will feel about competing once she is here, I’m a competitor at heart, so don’t be surprised to see me on stage again.
Has it been difficult for you to sit out?
It was a struggle at first. I’ve been competing for almost six years! However, I knew I wanted to start a family, so I adjusted my priorities, and now is the time for that. Life is full of cycles, and this is my time to focus on growing my family.
People yo-yo so much in their fitness goals. What’s the best way to stay on track?
For me, it’s just one of those things: You just do it. But for most people, you have to have short-term goals and long-term goals. Whether it’s something you want to fit in, or a competition, or a reunion — it’s all about setting goals. It’s also about rewarding yourself, and that doesn’t always have to be in the form of food. Get a shirt or a manicure. I’m all about giving yourself cheat meals for metabolism-boosting purposes and to keep your sanity, but if you always reward yourself with food, it’s defeating.
What’s the most basic advice you can give someone looking to get and stay lean?
You have to incorporate strength training and cardio. You have to eat your six meals a day, get protein in every meal, have veggies, fruits in moderation and keep refined sugars to a minimum. If something’s not working, cut the portions, cut the carbs — make small changes, nothing drastic. For supplementation, I like Top Secret’s Diet Accelerator, which is unique in that it speeds up fat loss and helps you maintain once your goals are reached. Also, protein is very important because it builds muscle, which is metabolic and helps burn calories. Our 100% Whey Protein is delicious, sugar free, low fat and gluten free. And it tastes like ice cream, so I get my sweet fix, too.
DELTS BY KRISTAL
Kristal Richardson uses this murderous, Hany Rambod-inspired routine to kick her delts into shape.
Barbell Push Press
Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press
Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise
Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise***
* Richardson begins her shoulder routine with two to three sets of push presses with light weight, usually doing 10 to the front and 10 behind her head. None of these sets is taken to failure.
** Richardson performs her first working exercise in Rambod’s FST-7 style, doing seven sets of 15 reps to near failure with 30 seconds of rest between sets. She usually performs the first four sets as standard overhead presses to hit more of her middle delt head, then switches to Arnold presses for the final three sets.
*** Richardson chooses three progressively heavier sets of dumbbells and pyramids up in weight from lightest to heaviest, then back down, working to failure at each stop.
For more information on Kristal Richardson or to purchase any of her workout DVDs, visit topsecretnutrition.com.